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We have TOO many federal judges!

I wish you to consider whether it would not be useful, by a circular to the clerks of the federal courts, to call for a docket of the cases decided in the last twelvemonth, say from July 1. 1801. to July 1. 1802. to be laid before Congress. it will be satisfactory to them, & to all men to see how little is to be done by the federal judiciary, and will effectually crush the clamour still raised on the suppression of the new judges. I think it a proper document to be furnished annually, as it may enable us to make further simplifications of that corps.
To James Madison, August 30, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders seek documentation for their choices.
Before President Adams left office in 1801, the Federalist Congress greatly increased the number of judges in federal courts. This had the desired effect of saddling the incoming Jefferson administration with a politically hostile judiciary. The new President took whatever steps he could to reverse or curtail those appointments. His actions infuriated the Federalists.

In this letter to his Secretary of State, Jefferson asked his opinion about requiring court clerks to document how many cases each judge had decided in the previous year. He would present that report to the Congress, proving how little work the judges actually did. That should “crush the clamor” that still surrounded his efforts to reduce their number. In addition, if that information was tracked each year, it would provide the basis for reducing the federal judiciary even more.

Madison responded four days later, suggesting this documentation might better be required by the Congress. The Executive Branch had no funding to accomplish it. It also had no authority to require the court clerks to do it, and some might simply refuse. Nevertheless, he would proceed however the President wished.

”I would highly recommend your organization consider Mr. Lee
for an event that will be memorable for years to come.”
Conference Chairman, Nevada Association of Land Surveyors
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Leave a comment Posted in Judiciary, Lawyers Tagged , , , , , , |

My friend, I am so sorry I had to fire your brother.

the act of duty which removed your brother from office, was one of the most painful and unwilling which I have had to perform. very soon after our administration was formed, the situation of his accounts … the failure to render accounts periodically, the disagreement among those he did render, gave reason to believe he was imprudently indulging himself in the use of the public money. what were the circumstances which led him to this, was not an enquiry permitted to us.
To Elbridge Gerry, August 28, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leading sometimes requires personally painful decisions.
Gerry (1744-1814) was a well-regarded Massachusetts politician, friend and ally of Jefferson. His brother, Samuel, had been appointed years before by President Washington to be a customs (tax) collector in Massachusetts. Samuel mismanaged the office and had not remitted all the taxes due of him. He’d been given opportunity to account for his affairs and pay what was owed and had not done so.

Elbridge Gerry wrote an incredibly long and impassioned letter to Jefferson on behalf of his brother. (3,500 words! By contrast, the Declaration of Independence is just over 1,300 words.) Nonetheless, Jefferson, who hated confrontation, removed Samuel Elbridge from his position. He responded to his friend’s plea, explaining how painful it was to fire his brother. Samuel could have made the situation right and did not. There was no alternative.

Elbridge Gerry was Governor of Massachusetts in 1812 when he reluctantly approved a new redistricting plan for the state legislature. Some new districts had very unusual shapes, created to favor republicans. One senatorial district was so convoluted as to resemble a salamander in shape. Combining the governor’s name with that amphibian gave rise to the term gerrymander, still used today to describe ill-shaped legislative districts created to benefit one party over another.

“Mr. Jefferson’s presentation on leadership was a wonderful and unique way
to kick off an extremely successful conference.”
Meeting Planner, County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania
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Leave a comment Posted in Federal finances, Politics Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Such a level-headed clergyman is rare! And appreciated!

the restoration of the rights of conscience to two thirds of the citizens of Virginia in the beginning of the revolution [the disestablishment of state church in 1786], has merited to those who had agency in it, the everlasting hostility of such of the clergy as have a hankering after the union of church & state. the right of political opinion is as sacred as that of religious, and altho’ a man’s political opinions ought to have influence in confiding political trusts, they should no more affect the state of society than his religious opinions.
To Daniel D’Oyley, August 15, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders oppose religious control but not religious influence.
South Carolinian D’Oyley forwarded to the President a July 4th address by a Baptist pastor in Charleston. That clergyman supported the revolution a quarter century before and the current administration’s efforts to safeguard the nation’s republican principles, especially the separation of church and state. Such reasoned support from the clergy was rare.

Jefferson harkened back to his successful effort in the 1780s to break the official tie between the Anglican church and Virginia’s government. Those who supported that effort bore the wrath of the clergy whose favored position was eliminated.

Both political and religious rights were sacred and should be acted upon, but one was not superior to the other.

“Your portrayal of Thomas Jefferson was both entertaining and informative …
adding a unique element to the conference program.”
Co-Conference Coordinator, Natural Areas Association
Mr. Jefferson will, indeed, add a unique element to your meeting!
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Leave a comment Posted in Religion Tagged , , , , , , |

If at all possible, keep government out of it!

With respect to the 5th. section, taking from coasting vessels employed in this trade the privilege of carrying any foreign articles, if yourself & mr Steele concurred in this, I should be content with it. but if you were of a different opinion, I should join you on the general principle of never imposing a restriction which can be done without.
To Albert Gallatin, August 14, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders keep their hands off when they can.
Gallatin, Jefferson’s Secretary of Treasury, had critiqued regulations regarding shipping in the coastal regions surrounding Spanish-controlled New Orleans. One of those regulations required American vessels to carry only American goods. The President deferred to Gallatin’s judgment in the matter.

If Gallatin favored the restriction, Jefferson would support his decision. If, however, Gallatin favored a hands-off policy, allowing ships to carry foreign goods, too, that was more to Jefferson’s liking. He preferred staying out of a matter that didn’t require government’s intervention.

“The question and answer aspect of your program …
kept our members in their seats until the very end.”
Executive Director, Association of Indiana Counties
Mr. Jefferson delights to answer your members’ questions after his remarks. No holds barred!
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Leave a comment Posted in Government's proper role Tagged , , , , , , |

I opened it by mistake. I apologize.

Th: Jefferson presents his respectful salutations to Judge Washington and incloses him a package which came to Th:J. in a very voluminous mail. opening the letters hastily & without always reading the superscription [sender’s name], he had opened this and read some lines in M. de la Fayette’s letter before he discovered it not to be meant for him. looking at the corner & finding his mistake he instantly re-incloses it with an assurance on his honor that he did not see a word beyond the 4th. or 5th lines in la Fayette’s letter and not one in the others. he hopes Judge Washington will accept his apology & his regret for this accident
To Bushrod Washington, August 13, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Principled leaders do not take advantage of another’s mistake.
Bushrod Washington (1762-1829) was George Washington’s nephew, heir, executor of his estate and Supreme Court justice for more than 30 years, appointed to the Court in 1798 by President Adams. The rift between Jefferson and the first President had grown pronounced before the latter’s death in 1799. Bushrod would be considered both a personal and political opponent of Thomas Jefferson.

Bushrod was compiling a history of the Revolutionary War and using correspondence between his late uncle and Marquis de Lafayette. A packet of that correspondence mailed to Bushrod had come to President by mistake, who opened it, not noting the addressee on the package. He read just a few lines, realized the package was not for him, and only then noticed Bushrod’s name on the outside. He immediately resealed the package and included this letter of apology.

“Some of the comments…included…
Very entertaining; A good way to close out; Fun and fitting; and Wow! What a finish”
President, Professional Event Services, for the Rural Cellular Association, Boston, MA
Mr. Jefferson will add a Wow! factor to your meeting.
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Leave a comment Posted in History Tagged , , , , , , , |

Is this shrewd or underhanded?

the cheapest & most effectual instrument we can use for preserving the friendship of the Indians: is the establishment of trading houses among them. if we could furnish goods enough to supply all their wants, and sell them goods so cheap that no private trader could enter into competition with us, we should thus get rid of those traders who are the principal fomenters of the uneasiness of the Indians: and by being so essentially useful to the Indians we should of course become objects of affection to them. there is perhaps no method more irresistable of obtaining lands from them than by letting them get in debt, which when too heavy to be paid, they are always willing to lop off by a cession of lands.
To Henry Dearborn, August 13, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
What’s a leader to do?
Dearborn (1751-1829) was Jefferson’s Secretary of War. This letter dealt with issues surrounding whites and Indians living on either side of the lower Ohio River. Whites were continually moving further west into Indian lands, and the President had to deal with the conflict that inevitably arose. He tried to do that in two ways, first to pacify the Indians and second, to encourage (or force) them to transfer ownership of some (or all) of their lands.

Here, Jefferson proposed an approach he favored for many years:
1. Establish trading stores for the Indians.
4. Drive out competition from private traders who stirred up trouble among the Indians.
2. Sell necessities at low prices, encouraging Indians to become farmers like the white men.
3. Be so helpful to the Indians they would come to like the white men.

The final sentence is uncharacteristic for this humane man. He proposed creating indebtedness in the Indians and then forgiving that debt in return for their relinquishing some of their land.

“The presentation was very educational,informative
and the details seemed to come to life …”
Director of Member Services, Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives
Watch Thomas Jefferson come to life for your audience!
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Leave a comment Posted in Debt, Native Americans Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Appearances matter, even small ones.

…altho saving of one salary to the publick is but a small consideration yet the Salutory [salutary, i.e. beneficial] scheme of oeconomy so valuable to our repubican Goverment can not be carried into full effect unless things of this kind be noticed…
Thomas Underwood, Jr. to Thomas Jefferson, July 25, 1802

I recieve information that [John] Hopkins Commr. [Commissioner]  of loans in Richmd. being allowed by law 2. clerks and having scarceley occasion for one, in fact employs but one, & gives him the salary of two. will you have this enquired into, and exact restitution of the double salary illegally given.
To Albert Gallatin, August 3, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Careful leaders promptly investigate abuses under their command.
Underwood was the whistleblower, informing Jefferson that John Hopkins, a Federalist officer-holder and businessman in Richmond had authorization to employ two clerks when he needed only one and was paying that one a double salary. Underwood acknowledged that saving one salary was negligible, but the nation’s republican principles must be upheld, and the people would appreciate the gesture.

Jefferson had to contend with many government employees who were appointed by Presidents Washington and Adams. He accepted Federalist officers who performed their duties impartially but had no patience with ones who abused the trust placed in them.

He acted immediately in this case, directing his Treasury Secretary Gallatin to investigate and recover any funds spent illegally. Two weeks later, Gallatin furnished the President with a certificate verifying that Hopkins had submitted the names of the two clerks he claimed to employ. Gallatin went no further, saying Jefferson’s source must verify whether Hopkins actually employed only one.

The results of this matter are not disclosed, but Hopkins remained in his position for another two years.

“I want to thank you … for a wonderful evening with Daniel Boone.”
Vice President, Site Development Engineering, Inc., St. Louis, MO
Mr. Jefferson’s contemporary, frontiersman Daniel Boone,
stands ready to inspire, teach and entertain your audience.
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Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous, Politics Tagged , , , , , , , |

Here we go again, but this is the last time.

I recieved lately a letter from Genl. Lawson solliciting a charity which he desired me to send through your hands. I had yielded last year to an application of the same nature from him [sending him $50] and although I think his habits & conduct render him less entitled to it than many others on whom it might be bestowed, yet (pour la derniere fois) [for the last time] I inclose for him 30. Dollars which I must ask you to apply to his use as you may think most serviceable for him.
To James Monroe, July 20, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Soft-hearted leaders have to know when charity becomes enabling.
Robert Lawson had served in America’s continental army and had some connection with the Cinncinati Society, an organization of retired army officers. Through both poor choices and poor health, Lawson was reduced to asking for money for living expenses. Jefferson had already given him $50 and was now asked for more. He thought others were more deserving of his help. Somewhat grudgingly, Jefferson, who was known to be generous, made a final contribution of $30.

Lawson asked any contributions for him be sent to James Monroe. Jefferson did so but asked his protege to spend it on Lawson’s behalf, rather than simply turning the money over to him, where it could be wasted.

“You gave us an excellent program!”
Executive Director, New Mexico Federal Executive Board
Mr. Jefferson will give your audience an excellent program!
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Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , |

This is better, smarter and cheaper!

… forts and shipyards are mere contrivances to sink the first expences, and entail everlasting expence afterwards. with a dry dock here in which our ships, kept dry & under cover, will be as sound at the beginning of a 2d. war as they were at the end of a 1st …
To Nathaniel Macon, July 17, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Self-governing leaders must limit government’s reach.
Jefferson opposed a standing army and a seaborne navy in peacetime for two reasons. First, having them would lead to using them, putting America unnecessarily into conflict with other nations. Second would be the cost to the public treasury of maintaining those military services year round.

Much of this letter dealt with a pet project of his, dry docks for maintaining ships. Leaving the nation’s small navy in the water year round brought the continual expense of maintaining their wooden hulls against the ravages of salt water and sea creatures. Far better would be to lift them out of the water using high tide on the Potomac River, a lock, and the water flow from the Tyber River. They could be put under roof and maintained for practically no cost. They could remain there, in perfect condition, until needed for the next war.

Congress never approved the President’s plan to dry dock the navy.

“My members raved about this presentation
for the remainder of the conference.”
Executive Director, Missouri Society of Professional Surveyors
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Leave a comment Posted in Military / Militia Tagged , , , , , , |

How much freedom for man? How much power for government?

… Can man govern himself? … [This is] the one great object of proving that a government may be so free as to leave every man in the unrestrained exercise of all his rights, while it has energy enough to protect him from every wrong …
To Nathaniel Macon, July 17, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Self-governing leaders promote a self-limiting government.
Jefferson held strongly that America was an experiment that all the world was watching. That experiment was summed in the first four words, “Can man govern himself?”

Man could govern himself, provided government would keep to its essential constitutional role. Government needed enough power to protect its citizens from other nations, and that was all. Doing so would “leave every man in the unrestrained exercise of all his rights.” In other words, man would indeed be left in the position of doing what only he could do best, govern himself.

“Were it not for time constraints, the Q&A session
might have continued for hours …”
Director of Operations, Indiana Telecommunications Association
Mr. Jefferson delights to answer your audience’s questions! All of them.
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2 Comments Posted in Government's proper role, Independence Tagged , , , , , , |